Kolcraft Enters., Inc. v. Chicco USA, Inc., No. 09 C 3339, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 13, 2018) (Chang, J.).

Judge Chang construed claims in this patent dispute involving infant play gyms for a second time, this time focused upon certain apparatus claims.

Of particular note, the Court construed the following:

  • “Connector” was not a means plus function term. It was “clearly” a structural term and would be understood as such by one of ordinary skill in the art. This was supported by the specification, which “frequently” used “connector” to denote structure. While Federal Circuit decisions construing “connector” in relation to other patents were not controlling, they were instructive because of similarities between the patent in suit and the patents in the Federal Circuit cases.
  • “Fastener” disclosed sufficient structure. It is a commonly understood noun referring to fastening or attaching structures. And the specification gave examples of fasteners, such as velcro and rivets.
  • “Pivotably coupled” was construed as “linked, connected, or fastened such that the leg [or connector] can rotate, turn, or move around a fixed point.” The Court also noted that hinges and ball-and-socket joints, which are bendable joints, could be included within pivotably coupled joints.
  • The reference to plural “connectors” was not indefinite for failing to specifically identify which connectors were referred to. The plural connectors could be either the “at least one connector” and/or the “plurality of connectors.” The Court did, however, note that if further evidence suggested that “connectors” was not an umbrella term referring to either or both sets of connectors, the parties could later raise the issue for reconsideration.